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The leading causes of tooth loss among children and adults worldwide are tooth decay and gum disease, two conditions that can be prevented by brushing and flossing daily and by making regular tips to the dentist. Recently, researchers discovered another possible way to fight these conditions using an ingredient that is normally found in traditional Chinese medicine.
Two substances in dried licorice appear to effectively kill the bacteria responsible for tooth decay and gum disease. The compounds, called licoricidin and licorisoflavan A, fought off three of the prominent forms of bacteria that cause these conditions. Researchers believe that licorice could someday be used to prevent a score of oral infections.
The scientists cautioned that people should speak to their healthcare provider before consuming licorice root, as it can interact negatively with certain medications or have unfavorable side effects.
The National Institutes of Health states that licorice has been used to treat a variety of digestive complaints, such as stomach ulcers, heartburn and colic. The organization also warns against starting a licorice regimen without consulting a doctor.
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